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Poems and Esays, by a Lady lately deceased. 2 Vols. Second
Edition. 8vo. 75. fewed. Dilly. THES *HESE Poems and Essays, we are told, were written to
relieve the tedious hours of pain and sickness. The author, in the prime of life, was condemned, for ten years, to increasing sufferings ; and we cannot be surprised to find that the scenes are sometimes tinctured with the fombre pencil : it is surprising that, in every inftance, a placid ferenity, a calm and steady resignation to the divine will, without a sigh of regret at the happiness which her misfortunes doomed her to forego, are eminently conspicuous. The editor tells us, that the reader who seeks for amusement only, may possibly receive no gratification from the perufal of them; but for fuch readers they are not intended.”
This is expressed with a becoming indignation, if we confider the frivolous amusements of the idle, the dissipated sons and daughters of fashion, who are incapable of feeling, and not allowed, while whirling in the giddy vortex, to think. Yet it is, in our opinion, an interesting amusement to pursue the sentiments of a mind capable of reflecting, and whose reflections have, both by reason and religion, been directed in a proper channel; to see a heart, softened by its own pains, beat with univerfal benevolence to all the world, and some times seeking to elude the moments of diftrefs by raising other images, and endeavouring to escape into other scenes. It raises perhaps the figh, the unavailing with ; but the mind is foftened in the progress, and returns, we think, amended from the task. We regret, we severely regret with the editor, the fatal termination, and must take our leave of the amiable and the elegant author, in the words which he has chosen from Ariofto. • Vattene in pace
alma beata & bella! Vatrene in pace a la fuperna sede,
E lascia al mondo esempio di tua fede !' The Poems are, an • Ode to Hope-Elegy on the Death of Mr. Garrick-A Ballad-Subject Love, for the Vase at Batheafton Villa-To Miss
then Two Years old Louisa ; a Tale-Envy ; a Fragment- On the New Year.'
Though they are in general diftinguished by the milder ra. diance which a benevolent heart, rather than poetic fire, can display, yet there are passages which fhow what the author, in happier circumstances, might have performed : the following stanza from the Ode to Hope, is of this kind.
* Go in peace, lovely and bleffed fpirit !
• Fancy wave thy airy pinions,
Bid the soft ideas rise,
Vernal fweers and cloudless skies.
A lovely youthful train appear,
Their guiltlefs bosoms know no fear :
Where are the soft delusions fed?
Must wisdom teach the soul to mourn ?
Alas! chofe vifions charm no more,
The pleasing dream of youth is o'er, Far other thoughts must now the soul employ, It glows with other hopes, it pants for other joy.' We regret that the Outline of Envy, a canto, in Spencer's allegorical manner, and in Spencer's stanza, without his obsolete language, was not finished. What the lady has done is very good, and her Outline is excellent. In general, the pathetic and the moral strains rise far beyond mediocrity,
The Eflays are, On Sensibility-On the Character of Læ. titia-On Politeneis-On the Character of Curio-On Can. dour-On Fortitude-On the Advantages of Affliction-On the Pleasures of Religion-On Gratitude-On HappinessOn Christian Perfection-On Resignation.'
These Effays are distinguished by the good sense of the obfervations, and the ease and perfpicuity of the style. To look for profound observations, a connected chain of reasoning, or philosophical remarks, would be to expect what would have been unsuitable to the author's situation. A knowlege of the human heart, and the manners of the world, are commonly displayed. We shall select an instance or two.
Curio is a man of good intentions, and a benevolent heart, but hurried away by passion, restless and impatient. His character is discussed in a conversation between his friend and a stranger, who has only known him in his difagreeable moments, and is conducted with spirit and address. The conclading observations, from their conciseness, we fhall choofe for our quotation.
• Alcander could not but be sensible of the truth of many of Hilario's observations ;-he fighed in secret for the friend whose good qualities be valued, and whose foibles gave him pain; and could Curio have known what his friend felt for him at that moment, it might perhaps have gone farther than all he ever read or thought upon the subject, towards correcting fault for which he often blamed himself, but which he still continued to indulge, and to imagine himself unable to fubdue.
• Perhaps neither of the parties concerned in this dispute were well qualified to judge as to the subject of it. Efteem and regard influenced the one, and added strength to his goodnature ; while the other, whose patience was wearied out by the ill-humours of a stranger, of whose merits he was ignorant, was naturally disposed to view them in an unfavourabře light. But such a conversation must induce every indifferent person to reflect on the importance of a quality which could oblige a friend to blush for the person he elteemed, and make an enemy at first sight of one by no means wanting in good-nature, who came into company with a disposition to please and to be pleased, and whose disgust was occasioned by a disappointment in that aim.
: * Can such a quality be a matter of little consequence, which those who are punctual in their duty in more effential points may be permitted to neglect ? Can it be a disposition so strongly implanted in the heart of any man, that his utmost efforts cannot conquer it?—The first supposition might furgish an excuse for giving way to any fault, since all may fancy they have virtues to counterbalance it. The last would reduce us almost to mere machines, and discourage every effort to reform and improve the heart, without which, no real and solid vircue can be attained.'
We shall select one passage more, in a different style : we here attend the author in her fick room ; we see the smile of benevolence breaking through the languor which had fixed her features ; we see the soul, not indeed in the pride of stoicism,' denying pain to be an evil, but, from a confidence in religion, which the has felt and profefied, looking forward to another and better life.
-" There is yet another situation, which, more than all those hitherto mentioned, seems to damp all the powers of the soul, and exclude all means of doing good to ourselves or others, and that is sickness. When the body is weakened by pain, the thoughts confused, and the spirits sunk, we are apt to think it is no time to aim at perfection, and that we are incapable of making any effort towards it: yet even here we should remember what has been all along obterved, that the perfection required of us consilis in exerting to the utmost those powers
which we possess, however little they may be.
In such a state, we cannot indeed act as we would have done in the days of health and strength, but we can still constantly and sincerely endeavour to do our best.
• In this, as in every other situation, we should remember, shat to avoid giving pain is as much an act of benevolence as
to do real good. An impatient word, or even a groan, may wound the heart of the friend who has been watching night and day to give you ease and comfort ; fuppress it, and you will have prevented a pang, greater perhaps than that which you relieve when you give bread to the hungry and drink to the thirsty. An expresion of fretfulness at the little inadvertencies of attendants may discourage well-meant endeavours, while a. different conduct might ftill incite them to do more, and postbly in time might teach those, who at first were guided merely by interest, to act upon a better motive.
• Such opportunities of doing good may yet be found ; and if such exertions are attended with some difficulty, let us remember, that to conquer that difficulty is a chief part of the perfection which such a state admits of."
We have thus given our real opinion : the lady was una known to us; but we could not pass by her tomb without scattering those flowers which her merit juftly claims, without weeding the nettle from her grave.
Poems by James Fordyce, D.D. Small 8vo.' 35. in Boards.
rior merit is generally acknowleged. The same unanimity will not prevail in estimating his poetical abilities, which certainly are much more questionable, and of an inferior order. We apprehend the ingenious author will not be much disappointed, or uneasy on that account. His literary fame is built on too solid a basis, and framed of too valuable materials, to need adventitious embellihments from so airy a superstructure. Indeed the doctor's pretensions are very humble, as the subse. quent extract from his Preface, which breathes the spirit of modesty, cardour, and goodness, fufficiently proves.
• It is with diffidence that I now appear before the public as an adventurer in poetry. For much the greater part of my life I did not believe that I could produce any thing tolerable in that way, and therefore never attempted it; though I was very early a warm admirer of the art. At last, however, I made the experiment, and wrote two or three trifles, that were approved by the few friends who saw them; but I felt no incli. nation to proceed, nor supposed that I should ever feel any. In truth, it is but very lately that I thought of trying what I could do, in different styles, on a variety of subjects and occafions; as a kind of exercise, which, intermingled with more serious studies, might contribute at once to employ and enliven my retirement, provided I did not find it too laborious. The sefult was, that soon after I began, much of the difficulty I had
apprehended disappeared, and I was infenfibly led' on far bes yond my first design.'
From this proemium we were naturally induced to expect no high-wrought performances ; nothing of the poet's eye glancing from heaven to earth, from earch to heaven. No fuperior excellence in this character can be acquired, unless it proceeds from the voluntary efforts of a fervid imagination. Whoever writes verse as a tak imposed, as a relaxation from severer ftudies, with an idea of difficulties to be surmounted, may be precise and correct, may attain the character of a good verlifier, but never that of a poet. What might be expected, however, is performed. We in general can approve, but not applaud. We every where distinguish evident marks of sound sense, of a pious and well-informed mind. The diction is clear and per Ipicuous, totally divested of all meretricious ornaments; but it is sometimes profaic, and the rhymes are frequently incorrect. The following little poem, we believe, has been published before ; but if so, it deserves a second perusal. The compliment at the conclusion is no less just than elegant; and the whole beautifully fimple.
• Virtue and Ornament; an Ode. To the Ladies, .
Shine with a milder, finer flame,
Than Beauty's self, if loft to fame.
Transcends the diamond's brightest beams;
More precious than the ruby seems.
May strike the fight with quick surprise ;
Can still engage the good and wise.
Will aught avail in grief or pain :
Delight that ever shall remain.
'Tis not her jewels, but her mind ;
It is her virtue charms mankind ! We meet, likewise, with two well written poems, in imitation of Spencer : and in many others, the moral and religious duties are deliceated with perfpicuity, and forcibly inculcated.An excellent engraving of the author is prefixed.