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wonders and the riddles of the World. On the shore of Calabria, at noon-day, the Fisherman sitting under the shadow of a rock, and mending his nets, beholds a new Creation rising from the deep ; temples and palaces, adorned with columns and pinnacles, and embosomed among mountains and woods, appear suspended in mid-air : while he views the phenomena with silent and trembling admiration, afraid to breathe lest the charm should be broken, their glories pass away so imperceptibly that his eye is left gazing on vacancy, before he recovers presence of mind to recollect whether he has seen them in reverie or in reality. If the creations of Mr. Pratt's Muse be less beautiful, they are not less unsubstantial, than those of 'the Fairy Morgagna. They have so much of the form and semblance, that we cannot persuade ourselves that they want the sense and soul of poetry, till after they have actually vanished while we looked at them, and left us poring over undefinable inanity. When we meet with one of these “ airy nothings”, which Mr. P. discharges from the point of a pen dipped in an ink-stand, with as much facility as a boy throws soap bubbles, that glitter as gaily and vanish aso instantaneously, from the bowl of a tobacco pipe dipped in barber's bason--we find, if we scan the metre with our fingers, that there is seldom any redundance or deficiency, of syllables; if we try the lines by the ear, they are in general most mechanically melodious; if we examine the diction with the eye, we are dazzled and delighted with the pomp and pageantry of nouns substantive, and adjective, verbs, participles, prepositions, conjunctions, and above all interjections, moving in magnificent procession along the pages, like my Lord Mayor's show through the streets of London, and with just as much and no more nieaning! But this is a secret known only to those who have taken the pains, which his sentimental readers never do, to seek for English grammar and common sense in Mr. P.'s rhymes: wanting these, however poetical they may be to the eye, the ear, and the finger-ends, they are as empty and odious to the mind as the rumbling of
“A Drum, a big bold Drum, a Drum profound,
A sound, sound, sound, and nothing but a sound !” Those, therefore, who have just as much taste as enables them so far to distinguish between good and bad in poetry as to chuse the worst and reject the best, will find Mr. P. an Author entirely to their liking. His lines are so liquid, his language so flowing, his ideas so delightfully indistinct, that his effusions may be read in all the luxury and languor of indolence, when the understanding is asleep, when the eyes are half-closed, and the prismatic colours are dancing
on the paper, and shedding lustre on the poet's images. Then, like the humming of insects, the purling of streams, and the murmuring of the wind, heard without listening, the numbers of our bard will soothe the soul of the simple, without interrupting the tranquility of his brain by the intrusion of one intelligible idea. Then too, (if the poem does not fall from the hand of the Reader, as it evidently has done from the hand of the Writer, half finished,) after being thus gently perused, the dear volume will be laid aside with tender indifference; and dreaming that he has been pleased, without remembering a syllable of his dream, the next time the Child of Sensibility meets the Poet of “Sympathy "* he will throw himself into his arms, as into the arms of Morpheus, and willingly be charmed into an intellectual slumber by his song
We have already insinuated, that those only, who read Mr. Pratt's compositions with rigid and frigid attention, find out that his most brilliant and beautiful passages are absolutely without signification; and that his poetry is a mere phantasmagoria of words, in which the shapes of half-formed thoughts, the legs and wings of ideas, are made dimly visi. ble amidst surrounding darkness; and advancing or receding, magnifying or diminishing, they equally defy comprehension, and elude the grasp of the subtlest understanding. We shall offer, from the pamphlet before us, an incomparable specimen of his skill in writing something that looks so much like poetry, that a candid critic will not be convinced till after repeated perusal that the deficiency of sense is not in his own head but in the author's lines. Treating of the glorious insurrection of the Spanish people to resist the violation of their throne and country by the Em. peror of the French, Mr. Pratt breaks forth into the following rapturous apostrophe.
• But, broad and general while the ruin spread,
Nor partial strife of yet inferior things;
Nor yet the multitude's unlicens'd rage,
And, finding there its centre, points to God!' On the first perusal of this passage, the reader is equally delighted with the gorgeous array of fine words, bewildered amidst the beautiful disorder of fine thoughts, and carried away by the rapid and resistless energy of the Poet's eloquence, till at the end of the quotation, after being buoyed upon the billows, he finds himself suddenly cast on the shore, like a stranded whale, gasping for breath, and wondering what can be the meaning of all this ! Undisheartened, however, be turns to the passage again, and being less confounded and transported than before, he locks keenly about him for connection between the maltitudinous limbs of this hydra-headed sentence; and for consistency antong tlre mob of metaphors that start up at every step, and trample down every live with their unwieldy and unnecessary weight; in vain – the sense, like an ignis fatuus, flits before him from couplet to couplet, ill at the last word it disappear's instantaneously, and leaves bim sinking, till he sticks tast; in a boy of disappointment. Determined, notwithstanding this second disaster, to conquer the mysterious paragraph, he traverses it again with more cautious and curious cirenmspection, and being this time perfectly master of himself, and neither to be de luded nor overthronn by the art of the Poet, he finds, to his utter amazement, that this splendid, this superlative concatenation of sounds aud syllables, representing unutterable ideas, is just such a creation of poetical absurdity, as in
physics might be imagined to result from the Infidel Philosopher's dance of ntoms.
Yet, seriously speaking, what does Mr. Pratt allude to and characterise in this passage ? seriously speaking, we do not know. What it is not, is sufficiently intelligible, (for we will not quibble about obscurity of phrase, where we can guess what the poet intended ;) but what it is, we defy allthe fellows of the Royal Society, and all the fools in Bedlam, to declare. It is a “ Magnet" which draws “ all Nature to one supreme and universal cause” ; “ a Magnet,” that “ touches the heart at a thousand points," and " awakes us both to bliss and agony:"-"a Magnet,” which“rocks the cradle,” in one line, and in the next
Throbs thro' each pulse, and breathes in every sigh.' Again; it is “a Magnet" which stands sentinel " to guard the dwelling where our Loves' reside;" but it is not long kept at the door ; "the Maguet" is invited into the house, and there it immediately assumes “the forms of parent, child, or wife;" but presently, as if dissatified with its situation, it flies out of the window to the uttermost parts of the earth, and." where'er we roam,"
• True as the polar needle, points to Home!' This 5 Magnet” then is transformed into “all that can bind us to the world," and becomes “the source of every joy," and what is yet more extraordinary, the source of every prayer.” Instantly afterwards the very same Magnet soars beyond this mortal span,” lifts our hopes, draws our souls to“ sublimer regions," and finally
• Ascends, with force divine, the blest abode,
And finding there its centre points to God.' Again we ask, what does Mr. Pratt allude to or characterise in this passage? Is it Patriotism, is it Piety? is it Benevolence, is it Heroism? No; not one, not all, of these; for neither one nor all together can perform, or can be, one half of
things here enuinerated, and attributed to the mysterious IT. What then is it?' Why, it is Nonsense; and we can make nothing more, for the Author has made notbing less of it.
After these remarks, and this quotation, it is unnecessary go
farther into the merits of this poem ; which commences in a congratulatory epistle to the Earl of Shaftesbury, on his return with his fauvily from captivity in France, afterwards runs wild in a rhapsody addressed to the SpanishPatriots, and concludes with a thundering apostrophe to Albion, of which we shall only quote' the four last lines.
• Thou, Tyrant's envy, and thou, Patriot's boast,
VIDENCE !'. We shall not ask for the meaning of the last_line, because if it has any meaning it is an impious one. When the FIRST Providence fails them, (and till then they have need of no other, it will be in vain for the Spaniards to cry for succour to a “SECOND,” even though that second be Mr. Pratt's native Albion."
We ought to apologize to our readers for having detained them so long in the examination of such an ivsignificant performance; but the name, the reputation, and, in spite of himself, the talents, of Mr. Pratt, will fully justify us for paying a share of attention to his present work of which it is utterly undeserving. Mr. Pratt has been a very volumi. nous, and is a very popular writer. He is an ingenious novellist, and an entertaining traveller, though an author of most perverse and pitiful taste ; -yet he has fancy,and feeling, and sprightliness, sufficient to render him always tolerable, and sometimes highly interesting, in prose. His poetical merits seem to have been taken for granted by himself and his friends, because scarcely any. Critic bas thought them worth denying: The present age. abounds more than
former one not only in writers, but in readers, of Poetry. It is for the sake of the latter, that we have taken some trouble on this occasion to detect and expose the imbecility and absurdity of Mr. Pratt's perse ;=he must offend, or he must please us, a great deal more than he has ever yet done in prose or rhyme, before he will attract so much of our notice again, Art. VIII.Midas ; or, a Serious Inquiry concerning Taste and Genius ; in,
cluding a Proposal for the certain Advancement of the Elegant Arts. To which is added, by Way of Illustration, a Fragment of Ancient History. By Anthony Fisgrave, LL. P. 12mo. pp. 220, Price 78,
Boards. Murray, 1808. FABLE has gone very great lengths, but fable has its limits.
It ascribed to king Midas the power of transmuting every thing he touched into gold; but it has never attributed to any man, king or subject, the faculty of turning all the books he might touch, or even read, into sense and value. Had there been any such man, we should have been very glad to receive his assistance, or steal his art, on occasion of examining this specimen of typographical elegance and literary futility: If it should be judged that there is any chance of such a magician arising in future times, and of his not having quite enough