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nobleman appears as an author, his merit should be handsomely acknowledged. In truth, it is this consideration only, that induces us to give Lord Byron's poems a place in our review, beside our desire to counsel him, that he do forthwith abandon poetry, and turn his talents, which are considerable, and his opportunities, which are great, to better account.
With this view, we must beg leave seriously to assure him, that the mere rhyming of the final syllable, even when accompanied by the presence of a certain number of feet; nay, although (which does not always happen) those feet should scan regularly, and have been all counted accurately upon the fingers,—is not the whole art of poetry. We would entreat him to believe, that a certain portion of liveliness, somewhat of fancy, is necessary to constitute a poem ; and that a poem in the present day, to be read, must contain at least one thought, either in a little degree different from the ideas of former writers, or differently expressed. We put it to his candour, whether there is any thing so deserving the name of poetry in verses like the following, written in 1806, and whether, if a youth of eighteen could say any thing so uninteresting to his ancestors, a youth of nineteen should pub. lish it. * Shades of heroes, farewell ! your descendant, departing
From the seat of his ancestors, bids you, adieu !
New courage, he'll think upon glory, and you.
Tis nature, not fear, that excites his regret :
The fame of his fathers he ne'er can forget.
He vows, that he ne'er will disgrace your renown;
When decay'd, may he mingle his dust with your own.' p. 1. Now we positively do assert, that there is nothing better than these stanzas in the whole compass of the noble minor's volume.
Lord Byron should also have a care of attempting what the greatest poets have done before him, for comparisons (as he must have had occasion to see at his writing master's) are odious.Gray's Ode on Eton College, should really have kept out the ten hobbling stanzas" on a distant view of the village and school of Harrow.' • Where fancy, yet, joys to retrace the resemblance,
Of comrades, in friendfhip and mischief allied ;
Which rests in the borom, though hope is deny'd. '-p. 4.
In like manner, the exquisite lines of Mr Rogers, “ On a Tear,' might have warned the noble author off those premises, and spared us a whole dozen such stanzas as the following.
• Mild Charity's glow,
To us mortals below,
Compaflion will melt,
Where this virtue is felt,
The man doom'd to fail,
As he bends o'er the wave,
The green sparkles bright with a Tear.'-. 11. And so of instances in which former poets had failed. Thus, we do not think Lord Byron was made for translating, during his non-age, Adrian's Address to his Soul, when Pope succeeded so indifferently in the attempt. If our readers, however, are of another opinion, they may look at it.
• Ah! gentle, fleeting, wav’ring sprite,
To what unknown region borne,
But pallid, cheerless, and forlorn. '--page 72. However, be this as it may, we fear his translations and imitations are great favourites with Lord Byron. We have them of all kinds, from Anacreon to Ossian ; and, viewing them as school exercises, they may pass. Only, why print them after they have had their day and served their turn? And why call the thing in' p. 79. a translation, where two words (bina neysv) of the original are expanded into four lines, and the other thing in p. 81, where feecovurloos ras' ó gais, is rendered by means of six hobbling verses ?
-As to his Ossianic poesy, we are not very good judges, being, in truth, so moderately skilled in that species of composition, that we should, in all probability, be criticizing some bit of the genuine Macpherson itself, were we to express our opinion of Lord Byron's raphsodies. If, then, the following beginning of a Song of bards,' is by his Lordship, we venture to object to' it, as far as we can comprehend it... What form rises on the roar of clouds, whose dark ghost gleams on the red stream of tempests? His voice rolls on the thunder ; 'tis Orla, the brown chief of Otihona. He was,' &c. After detaining this. ! brown chief some time, the bards conclude by giving him their advice to T 4
about seat of subject inserting sa
raise his fair locke;' then to spread them on the arch of the rainbow ;' and ' to smile through the tears of the storm.Of this kind of thing there are no less than nine pages; and we can so far venture an opinion in their favour, that they look very like Macpherson ; and we are positive they are pretty nearly as stupid and tiresome.'
It is a sort of privilege of poets to be egotists; but they should ( use it as not abusing it;' and particularly one who piques himself (though indeed at the ripe ag 10 nineteen), of being • an infant bard, '-• The artless Helicon I boast is youth ;) should either not know, or should seem not to know, so muc about his own ancestry. Besides a poem above cited on the family seat of the Byrons, we have another of eleyen pages, on the self-same subject, introduced with an apology, 'he certainly had no intention of inserting it ;' but really, the particular request of some friends,' &c. &c. It concludes with five stanzas on himself, the last and youngest of a noble line.' There is a good deal also about his maternal ancestors, in a poem on Lachiny-gair, a mountain where he spent part of his youth, and might have learnt that pibroch is not a bagpipe, any more than duet ineans a fiddle.
As the author has dedicated so large a part of his volume to immortalize his employments at school and college, we cannot possibly dismiss it without presenting the reader with a specimen of these ingenious effusions. In an ode with a Greek motto, called Granta, we have the following magnificent stanzas,
• There, in apartments finall and damp,
The candidate for college prizes,
Goes late to bed, yet early rises,
Or puzzles o'er the deep triangle ;
In barbarvus Latin, doom'd to wrangle.
From authors of historic use ;
The square of the hypothenuse.
That hurt none but the hapless student,
p. 123, 124, 125. 1 We are sorry to hear so bad an account of the college psalę mody as is contained in the following Attic stanzas.
Our choir would scarcely be excus'd,
Even as a band of raw beginners ;
To such a set of croaking fianers.
Had heard these blockheads fing before him,
In furious mood, he would have tore 'em.' p. 126, 127.
ART. III. Some Account of the public Life, and a Selection from
the unpublished Writings of the Earl of Macartney; the latter consisting of Extracts from an Account of the Russian Empire, a Sketch of the Political History of Ireland, and a Journal of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China ; with an Appendix to each Volume. By John Barrow, F.R.S. Author of Travels in China, &c. &c. *2 vol. 4to. pp. 1150. Cadell & Davies. London. 1807.
W Ë have frequently had occasion to commend the abilities and
industry of Mr Barrow; and the last time he came before us, we gave him a hint about writing fewer quartos. This advice, however, seems very little to his liking; and, indeed, he could not easily have taken a better way of showing how deter. mined he was to reject it, than by coming down upon the public with a huge life of Lord Macartney. The private character of this nobleman was no doubt highly respectable ; and his conduct, in several situations of no great consequence, as well as in
the important government of Madras, entitled him to the praise of a zealous and faithful servant of the public. He was by no means deficient in the ordinary talents which fit men for such employments; and by these, together with his diligent pursuit of place under all administrations, he raised himself, by regular steps, from the station of a private gentleman, to the proud eminence of the Peerage, the Bath and the Privy Council, where he shines upon Mr Barrow with a splendour that almost dazzles his eyes out. But, notwithstanding all this overpowering greatness, we really do think that his biography might have been comprised within less than four hundred quarto pages, and that a more rigorous selection might have been used in making the world acquainted with his state papers and literary compositions. Even if a certain mass of pages were wanting, why could not our au thor have published some of his Lordship's private correspondence with the many eminent men of his time, whom he seems to have known very intimately? The mere public life of this lord, is not a great deal more important than that of almost any other hero of the Court Calendar. Yet we must have a detail of every particular connected with it, considerably more minute than the narrative of Charles V.'s reign. There is really something so preposterous in this, that we wonder how it could have failed to strike even Mr Barrow, with all his profound veneration for his deceased patron, and his disposition to magnify his book as well as his subject.
The first of these ample volumes consists entirely of this higtory, by Mr Barrow, and an appendix of numerous despatches and other such documents illustrating the narrative. It is to be observed, however, that if any person shall so far interest himself in Lord Macartney, as to examirte scrupulously the merits of his different disputes with his colleagues in the Madras government, and with the Calcutta presidency (to which the appendix chiefly refers), he will find very little here to assist his inquiries. Mr Barrow's statements are altogether ex parte ; and while he loads us with his own panegyrics of Lord Macartney's every word and action, and produces all the noble governor's long defences of his conduct on disputed points, he scarcely mentions the reasonings of his opponents, and suppresses almost every document in which they were explained by themselves. In truth, like most biographers of persons recently deceased, Mr Barrow is not the historian, but the eulogist of his patron. Take his account of the matter, and Lord Macartney was a faultless mortal. Not a word escapes him, through the whole narrative, that can lead to a suspicion of his having had one frailty or imperfection, except in an instance which we shall afterwards notice; and there the trait