those should be against him, who have any decided relish for what has hitherto been found enduring in poetry. So, however, we take the case very nearly to be. Almost all nice criticks and fastidious judges, and the greater part, indeed, of men of improved and delicate taste, not only refuse to admire Mr. Southey and his colleagues, but treat them with absolute contempt and derision; wonder at such of their friends as profess to think favourably of their genius; and look upon the circumstance of their having made a kind of party in the literary world, as one of the most humiliating events in the recent history of that great society. For our own part, we are a good deal less difficult; and shall continue to testify in favour of Mr. Southey's talents and genius, as resolutely, as against his peculiarities and affectations; considering it, indeed, as our chief duty, in this matter, to counteract the neglect into which he seems to be falling, both by endeavouring to correct the faults by which it is provoked, and by pointing out the excellences by which those faults are at once enhanced and redeemed. But, though we cannot sympathize with the undiscriminating scorn and sweeping reprobation which Mr. Southey meets with in very respectable quarters, we think we can see very clearly” how such feelings should have been excited; and are very ready to enter into sen

timents, . which we think, at the

same time, have, in this instance, been carried greatly too far. Mr. Southey’s faults are peculiarly glaring; and, to all improved understandings, we admit, peculiarly of. fensive. But they are combined, in him, with great gifts and great acquirements; and ought not to be alone remembered, in his final accounting with the publick. We have

said enough of these faults on for- .

mer occasions; and shall not enter again at large upon the invidious

task of classing or illustrating them. If we were to express them all in one, word; that word should be childishness, and, indeed, it is very curious to trace the effects of this quality, in all the departments of his poetry. His taste in description is as remarkably childish, as his powers of execution, in this branch of his art, are rare and admirable. Every thing, in his pictures, is gaudy and glittering, and fantastically exaggerated and contrasted. His landscapes are full of coloured light, and gems; and metallick splendour; and sparkle with such portentous finery, as to remind us of the oldfashioned grottos and shellwork of the last generation, or the gilded caverns and full lighted transparencies of the opera-house. His excessive love of the marvellous and gigantick, is a symptom not less decisive; and his delineations of persons, and of affection, are still more strongly marked with the same infantine character. He seems to think grown men and women too corrupt and hardened for poetical purposes; and, therefore, all his interesting personages lisp like sucklings; and his unamiable ones are, as nearly as possible, such sort of monsters as nurses imagine to frighten naughty boys into obedience. There is little other passion in his poetry, than what arises from the natural affection of fathers and daughters, or brothers and sisters; and from that calm, pure, subdued sort of love which may be indulged by dutiful children under the immediate inspection of their parents. All their pleasures, and pastimes, and occu

pations, too, are evidently borrowed

from the same age of innocence; and the picture of society that is offered

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fully it may be represented; but the tone is too weak, to strike with sufficient force on the ear of an ordinary reader; and is, by far, too uniform, not to pall upon any one who is doomed to pursue it through a series of long poems. There is no variety of human character in all TMr. Southey's productions. Men are never brought forward to contend with men, in the management of great affairs; or to display those social or lofty qualities, by which they are enabled, in real life, to attach or to command their fellows. If Mr. Southey wants a living instance of the value of such elements, we would remind him of the signal success with which Mr. Scott has given the strong interest of reality to his most fanciful delineations, by this perpetual interposition of intelligible motives and familiar principles; and has, at the same time, imparted a spirit, and force, and variety to his pictures, by keeping his readers perpetually engaged with events and persons, that bear a character of historical importance; instead of soothing them, like the author before us, with the virtues and affections, as well as the marvels and legends of the nursery. All this, however, would have been greatly more tolerable, if the poet had condescended to assume the lowly tone that is suitable to such subjects and feelings. If he had been contented to leave the loftier regions of the epic, to more potent and daring spirits, and addressed himself to youths and virgins, in soft and unambitious strains, we have no doubt that he would soon have found a fit and willing audience, and been left, by those who were careless of such themes, to pursue them in his own circle, without let or molestation. But he has imprudently challenged the attention of a far wider and less tractable auditory; he has come with his whistle, and his gilded book of fairy

ten make us feel how very beauti

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cal poets with the most supercilious

neglect; while they speak in an authoritative tone, of the beauties of George Wither and Henry More. With such Iudicrous auxiliaries, they wage a desperate war on the established system of publick taste and judgment; and waste their great talents in an attempt, the success of which is as hopeless, as it would be lamentable, and which all their genius cannot save from being ridiculous. - - -* : * > *

The last unfortunate accompaniment of Mr. Southey’s childishness, is the perpetual artifice and effort that is visible in every part of his performances. We do not mean to say, that he has not great facility of diction, and copiousness of imagery; but, there is always too apparent a resolution to make the most of every thing; a kind of rhetorical exaggeration (according to his own notions of rhetorick) a determination to miss no opportunity of being fine and striking; and an anxiety to present every thing, great or small, under the most imposing and advantageous aspect. The general principle, no doubt, is highly laudable, and, we suppose, is common to all who write for glory. But what we complain of, is, that it is by far too visible, and too indiscriminately indulged, in the works of this author. If there be any room or apology whatever for a description, it is sure to be thrust in; elaborately finished,

and extended to a vast length; and

if any striking sentiment or event is.

about to be brought forward, such a note of preparation is sounded, and so much care taken to ensure it a favourable and conspicuous introduction, as to give the reader rather a distressing impression of the labour the author has bestowed on his composition, and of the great value he attaches, even to the meanest of his ingredients. It is difficult for us to believe, that Mr. Southey has ever rejected or suppressed any idea that he thought might be introduced with the smallest prospect of success; or has ever regarded any of so little importance, as to deserve only a slight and incidental notice. In his poetry, therefore, we have not a selection of the thoughts and images that have occurred to him; but we seem to have them all; and to have them all dilated and worked up, with nearly the same fond and indiscriminate anxiety. He seems, in short, to have as excessive a love for his own genius, as Ovid, or the longwinded Spaniards and Italians of the sixteenth century; and to think as little of sparing his readers any thing which his own reading or reflection had once suggested to his imagination. The effect of all this is, Anot only to make his poetry very - diffuse, and to give it a general air of heaviness and labour; but to deprive his felicities of their greatest grace, and to render his failures inexpiable. There is nothing so charming in poetry, as that appearance of perfect ease and carelessness, which makes the result, perhaps, of long study, appear like the spontaneous effusion of a superiour or inspired mind; and at once raises the reader, as it were, into the Society of a higher order of beings, whose common language and habits of thought bear a stamp of vigour and sublimity far above the reach of ordinary mortals. This charm, however, is de

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substantial qualities of thought and fancy, we think there are few poets of established character, who can be reproached, in any considerable degree, with the fault we impute to Mr. Southey. On the contrary, it will be found, that almost all their beauties appear to have been produced by accident; and that their fine passages are both brought in and concluded, with an apparent unconsciousness of their superiour merit. They are neither introduced with any sort of parade, nor dwelt upon with any protracted complacency. They open quietly upon the eye of the reader as he advances; and disappear again long before he is satiated with beholding them. He is never diverted from his path to catch a striking view of them; nor made to linger in its windings, till all the sweetness is exhausted. The practice of Mr. Southey, and of many other modern writers of inferiour note, is directly the rcverse of this; nor, indeed, is there any fault more characteristick of our modern poetry, and, perhaps, of our literature in general, than the offensive anxiety that our authors are continually showing to make

the most of their talents and their

materials; to miss no occasion to astonish and transport the reader; and to take special care that nu


thing which they think beautiful or important shall pass unobserved, or be dismissed till its merits have been fully pointed out, and made apparent to the most negligent and inattentive. It is this miserable trick of overrating the importance of all our conceptions, that has made our recent literature so intolerably diffuse and voluminous. No man, for example, has now the forbearance to write essays as short as Hume’s, even if he had talents to make them as good; nor will any one be contented with stating his views and arguments in a popular and concise manner, and leaving them to their fate; but we must have long speculative introductions; illustrations and digressions; objections anticipated and answered; verbose apologies, at once fulsome and modest; practical inferences; historical deductions; and predictions as to the effect of our doctrines, or the neglect of them, on the fate of men, and of the universe, in all time coming. In poetry, again, a great part of our modern authors seem equally averse to throw away the rubbish of their imaginations; and when they do hit upon any thing which seems to them of more than ordinary value, never fail to exert themselves notably to ensure the reader’s attention to it. It is introduced either with startling abruptness, or slow and pompous preparation; and is turned into all possible lights, and repeated in all possible forms, and with every possible encouragement and suasory to admiration. The consequence of all which is, that the whole spirit, lightness, and nature of the thought is extinguished; and the reader left oppressed with a sense of fatigue, i.eaviness, and confusion. But if this tone of perpetual effort and ambition, prove so injurious to the effect of the very passages in which a poet is most successful, it is a thousand times worse where he experiences any failure or mis

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scenery, its eternal enchantments, and the fewness of its human characters. The general outline of the story, too, and the kind of interest that it excites, is so precisely the same in the two works, that if this last had proceeded from another author, he must have incurred the charge of very poor and barefaced plagiarism from Mr. Southey; and Mr. Southey himself must submit to the imputation of some poorness of invention in the department of incident or fable. The subject of both is the adventures of an innocent girl, with her father and lover, persecuted by a host of witches and evil spirits; and finally triumphing ever them, in a great measure by the help of the very enchantments that are resorted to for their de

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tion. Those who were offended with the irregularity and extravagance of that poem, we think, will have still less toleration for this; and, even of those who admired formerly, there are many who will not admire now; though there are some, no doubt, who will admire a great deal more than ever. This is a finished poem, in the same style, in which Thalaba was but a slight and hasty sketch; and there are many who were pleased with the lightness, the rapidity, and variety of the sketch, who will think the loss of these qualities but ill compensated by the splendid colouring and minute details of the

finishing. To such persons, the pre

sent piece will appear loaded, and tedious, and glaring, in comparison with that less elaborate production; but those who have a full and decided relish for the peculiar style by which both are characterized, will certainly find more to admire in the work now before us; much greater fullness of detail, brilliancy of tint, and richness of construction; more boldness of imagination, and deeper complication of incident. For our own part, we incline to the severer judgment. The marvels of Thalaba arc more thin, airy, and fleeting; and, while they appear to us to be on the whole more elegant, they do. not wait for that deliberate investigation which is challenged by the elaborate groups of the present performance. We are more uniformly interested, perhaps, by the poem before us, and more deeply impressed with a sense of the author's genius; but we are also more fatigued, and more provoked; and feel that the pains and deliberation that have evidently been employed upon this exhibition of his extravagances, deprive him of an excuse, of which he still seems to stand in need. It is quite time, however, that we should endeavour to make our readers more particularly acquainted with this extraordinary production. In the Hindoo religion there is

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