Page images
PDF
EPUB

the fublinie, the terrible, the pathetic, &c. It may sometimes confilt in a genıle agitation of the contending emotions, from which a preponderance of pleasure is ultimately produced, as from the melancholy recollections of a cheerful old man, in the Iwo April Mornings, and the Fountain ; sometimes ir may arise from ine mixture of lively imagery with various feelings, as with exulation and pity, in the two paris of Hartleap Vill; fometimes it may be founded on the soft, and almost insensible aff ctions which we receive from natural scenery, aided, perhaps, by folne accidental association in our own minds. Of this kind are the different Poems on the Naming of Places, Lines written with a Slate Pencil, &c. Rural Architecture, and some others. · 2. Even where the feeling intended to be called forth is of a rich and noble character, such as we may recur to, and feed upon, ii may yet be wrought up so gradually, including so many preparatory circumstances of appropriate manners, of local description, of actual events, &c. that the subile uniting thread will be lost, without a persevering effort toward attention on the part of the reader. Who, that has studied Shakspeare, must not be conscious how often the connection of minute and willing incidents with the main story has eluded his observation, unul after repeated perusals? Something of this kind will probably occur to the readers of the Brothers, the Cumberland Beggur, and more particularly of the Poem, entitled Michael; yet these three are of the highest order of Poems in the volume. The interest, especially of the first, is fo dramatically wrought up, the minute touches are so accurately studied, the general effect is so insensibly produced, and appeals fo forcibly to the heart, as to rank its author far beyond

the reach of common-place praise or censure. - . 3. There is a third class of Poems postelling a strong effect,

which results equally from the power of imagina:ion and of 'feeling; in these, the prominent features of the story are all along a:tended with a concurring splendour of poetic ornament, and the combined influence of these agents pervades every part of the composition. This is greatly the case in the Poem of Ruth, and in that of Ellen Irwin, of which the latter is merely narrative; the former intermixes much of deep and intereiting speculation : to this class also may be referred Lury Gruy and Poor Sufan, with several beautiful specimens in the second volume. -4. Other small pieces have different characteristics. The Fragment of the Danish Boy is a mere creation of fancy ; the Pe Lamb presents a portraiture of infantine simplicity; and

the

the lines in pages 50 and 53, are masterly sketches of those “ strange fits of passion,” which fometimes unaccountably flash across a poetical mind.

From the longer Poems it is almost impossible to select any passage without injury to its effect, owing to a want of that interest which the context supplies. We shall, however, venture to cite the following tender touches from the Brothers.

* though their parents
Lay buried side by side, as now they lie,
The old man was a father to the boys,
Two fathers in one father : and if tears
Shed, when he talk'd of them where they were not,
And hauntings from the infirmity of love
Are aught of what makes up a mother's heart,
This old man, in the day of his old age,
Was hialf a mother to them.” P. 32.

[ocr errors]

In the Poet's Epitaph, an effusion of good-humoured satire, is succeeded by this picture of animated and engaging sensibility.

« But who is he with modeft looks,
And clad in homely ruffet brown?
He murmurs near the running brooks
A mutic sweeter than their own.
He is retired as noon-tide dew,
Or fountain in a noon-day grove;
And you must love him, ere to you
He will seem worthy of your love.
The outward shews of sky and earth,
Of hill and valley he has view'd;
And impulses of deeper birth
Have come to him in folitude.
In common things that round us lie,
Some random truths he can impart;
The harveft of a quiet eye,
That broods and Deeps on his own heart.
But he is weak, both man and boy,
Hath been an idler in the land;
Contented if he might enjoy
The things which others understand.
Come hither in thy hour of strength,
Come, weak as is a breaking wave!
Here Itretch thy body at full length,
Or build thy house upon this grave." P. 167.

Perhaps · Perhaps the English language can boast few instances of descriptive poetry, enlivened with a happier variety of imagery, than the fanciful echo in the Poem inscribed to sanna. The lady's laugh, to be sure, is loud, but it is not unpleasing. I

« When I hał gazed perhaps two minutes' space,
Joanna, looking in my eyes, beheld
That ravishment of mine, and laugh'd alood.
The rock, like something Harting from a sleep,
Took up the lady's voice, and laugh'd again :
That ancient woman*, feated on Helm.crag,
Was ready with her cavern; Hammár-Scar,
And the call fteep of Silver-How sent forth
A noise of laughter; southern Loughrigg heard,
And Fairfield answered with a mountain tone :
Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky .
Carried the lady's voice; old Skiddaw blew
His speaking trumpet ;-back out of the clouds.
Of Glaramara southward came the voice;

And Kirkttone toss'd it from his misty head.” P. 185. But the most fingular specimens of unpretending, yet irresistible pathos, are ihe two Songs, p. 50 and 52. In artleflness, they strongly remind us of Burns; but perhaps go beyond him in delicacy. As they have a secret connection, we Thall insert both.

“ Strange fits of passion I have known,

And I will dare to tell;
But in the lover's ear alone,

What once to me befel.
When she I loy'd was Atrong and gay,

And like a Rose in June,
I to her cottage bent my way,

Beneath the evening moon.
Upon the moon I fix'd my eye,

All over the wide lea;
My horse trudg'd on, and we drew nigh,

Those paths so dear to me.
And now we reach'd the orchard plot,

And, as we climb’d the hill,
Towards the roof of Lucy's cot,

The moon descended ftill.

[ocr errors]

** On Helm Crag, that impresive single mountain at the head of Grasmere, is a rock which, from most points of view, bears a striking resemblance to an old woman cowering. Close by this rock is one of those fissures or carerirs, which, in the language of the country, are called Dungeons. The other mountains either immediately surround the vale of Grafinere, or belong to the same cluster."

In one of those sweet dreams I slept,

Kind Nature's gendleft boon!
And all the while, my eyes I kept

On the descending moon.
My horse mov'd on ; hoof after hoof

He rais'd, and never stopp'd :
When down behind the cottage roof

At once the planet dropp'd.
What fond and wayward thoughts will lllide

Into a lover's head;
O, mercy!” to myself I cried,

" If Lucy should be dead!”

She dwelt among th' untrodden ways,

Beside the springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were none to praise,

And very few to love.
A violet by a moffy store,

Half hidden from the eye;
Fair as a star, when only one

Is shining in the sky.
She liv'd unknown, and few could know
· When Lucy ceas'd to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh!

The difference to me." When the art of poetry has been long cultivated among a polished people, and brought to a state of great refinement, The natural operation of an ill-judged ambition, to excel even those who have most successfully adorned the language, leads writers either to employ an affected and over-laboured style, or, at least, to keep always upon the high stilts of elegance, to the exclusion of Nature and Simplicity. In such a state of the poetic art, that man may be considered as a public benefa&tor, who, with talents equal to the task, which is arduous, recals attention to the more natural style, and shows what may be effected by Gimple language, expreflive of human paslions, and genuine, not artificial feelings. In this character, Mr. Wordiworth appears; and appears with a success, to which we could by no means refuse our approbation. We will not deny that sometimes he goes so far in his pursuit of impliciry, as to become flat or weak; but, in general, he sets an example wbich the full-dressed poet of affectation might wish, but with in vain, to follow*. He would correct Mr. W. as the dancingmaster of Hogarth would correct the attitude of Antinous.

* The title of the Poems is, in some degree, objectiunable; for what Ballads are not Lyrical ? Besides, there are many compofitions in blank verse, not at ail Lyrical.

ART.

Art. VII. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of

London, for the Year 1800. Part II. 4to. 298 pp. The
Two Parts 11. 55. 60. Elmily. .

XII. On double Images caused by Atmospherical Refraction.
By, William Hyde Wollaston, M. D. F. R. S. ·
THE refractive property of the atmosphere has often been

1 observed to deviate from its more usual mode of acting, and several instances are mentioned in former volumes of the Phil. Trans. and elsewhere, of its having represented objects in an inverted position, or having formed an inverted image beneath the object itself; but as the cause of such unusual refractive power had not been farisfactorily explained, Dr. Wollafton endeavoured,

“ ift. To inveltigate theoretically the successive variations of increasing or decreafing density, to which Auids in general arc liable, and the laws of the retractions occasioned by them.

" 2nd. To illustrate and confirm the truth of this theory, by experiments with fluids of known density.

“ And, lastly, to ascertain, by trial upon the air itself, the causes and extent of those variations of irs refractive density, on which the inversions of objects, and other phænomena observed, appear to de. pend.” . . With this view, Dr. W. very properly expresses the general laws, which may be applied to all cases of varying density, in three propositions, which are as follows. : « Prop. I. If the density of any medium varies by parallel indefinitely thin strata, any rays of light moving through it in the direction of the straia, will be made to deviate during their passage, and their deviations will be in proportion to the increments of density where they pass.

o Prop. II. When two fluids of uuequal density are brought into contact, and unite by mutual penetration; if the densities at different heights be expressed by ordinates, the curve which terminates these ordinates, will have a point of contrary flexure.

• Prop. lll. If parallel rays pass through a medium, varying according to the preceding propofition, those above the point of contrary flexure will be made to diverge, and those below the same point will converge, after their passage through it.” :

Those propositions are clearly demonstrated, and the demonftrations are illustrated by means of diagrams; after which, Dr. W. relates a variety of well.concrived experiments, accompanying them with useful remarks, and allusions to the phænomena observed by other persons (the above-mentioned

diagrams

« PreviousContinue »