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ART. IX. The Garden; or, The Art of laying out Grounds.
Translated from the French of the Abbé de Lille. Small 8vo. 43. Cadell. London, 1789.
IT is scarcely possible for the English critic, whose amor patric
is extended to the literary fame of his country, to be more highly gratified than by this poem of the Abbé de Lille, and the reputation it has deservedly obtained in France. Low and degraded as uninquisitive prejudice may deem the present poetic genius of our ile, we find that a neighbouring kingdom, celebrated for its refinement, and remarkable for the delicacy of its critical judgment, is so far from considering the British Parnafsus as a barren wilderness, that, as from the pieria of the most revered antiquity, their favourite authors transplant, with eager industry, those treasures of beauty and of art, with a view to immortalise their names among their admiring countrymen.. The assistance which M. de Lille has so copiously received from Gray, from Shenstone, Mason, and Thomson, as well as from Pope, Milton, and others, he has not, however, been grateful enough to acknowledge; on the contrary, in his introduction, he boldly claims a garland where shall be found no fou reign ornament. This is the more remarkable as the very title of his poem is an imitation of Mason; and besides whole pages copied from Gray, and innumerable imitations of Pope, &c.
Les Jardins' possesses but little of didactic merit which is not to be found in 1 The English Garden.' The Abbé does not very frequently favour us with any thing new in the preceptive way; and some of those rules which are introduced into this poem without the authority of Mr. Mason, and perhaps all which controvert his principles, tend only to prove that France is still behind us in taste and the chaste simplicity of nature. In proof of this, besides dashing the raging fountain to the skies, we might quote many other passages of the work before us. Nei. ther are the precepts in this work so various or determinate as those which may be adduced from its British rival; while at the same time (though the poems differ but little in length) it does not display equal embellishment. This perhaps is partly owing to the different conduct of the authors. The Abbé pursuing a plan less regular, naturally became more excursive and diffuse, and was consequently in danger of suffering inany precepts to escape which the classical arrangement of Mr. Mafon happily availed himself of. Much also is to be attributed to the declamatory genius, or (if we may hazard the expression) the playful loquacity of Gallic fancy. ID 2
The present performance is nevertheless worthy of perusal; not only for the opportunity it gives of comparing the fentiments of two rival countries in an obvious point of view, but also for the intrinsic merit of the two performances.
The translator professes to make a free tranflation; and he has, with judgment, omitted some conceits which did no credit to their author. If the idea of the two currents running a race, and disputing the doubting prize, with fome other reprehenfible passages, had been also rejected, perhaps the reader of taste would not have lamented the loss. The language is flowing and poetical, the versification generally easy and melodious, and the pauses are regulated with an equal attention to smoothness and variety; neither is the harmony interrupted with unpleasant triplets. The punctuation is incorrect, and sometimes we meet with mere apologies for rhime, as scene and seen, console and soul, fevere and revere, &c. These are not rhimes but echoes; and the following are neither verse nor prose:
• Art then the rebel nature may fubdue,
But she to grandeur must his triumph owei'
• The paths whose happy guidance we pursue
- Which e'en the awe-ftruck hand of time doth spare."
Alas! I've never rov'd those vales among, .
And there I'll read the firains those scenes infpir'd."
• Now spring returns, and o'er the dewy vale,
Say, Who may touch aright the rural reed?. ' .
Displays the flow'rs and turf, the waves and shade.'
We give the following lines as a specimen of the performa ance:
- And now the gale ,
And gliftning in each eye the starting tear.' The romantic descriptions which the third book contains are particularly delightful; and the episode of Petrarch and Laura, with which it concludes, is pathetic.
This publication, though, upon the whole, not correct, is elegant and pleasing.
Art. X. Miserio's Vifion; a Poem. 4to. Is. Norwich printed.
Baldwin, London. No Date. COMEBODY, we know not who, is introduced we know not
how, describing a place without a name, we know not whers, as a second Eden;"
- Sea, land, and sky conspire
The author, however, a few lines further on, fatly contradicts this, and tells us
This happy country round Seems Eden all, seems all enchanted ground;' and paints, the inhabitants in the full enjoyment of all they can defire.' This unknown and nameless personage amazed,' we suppose at so uncommon a state of things, asks
What bounteous hand Sow'd joys and plenty over all the land.' "Miserio, all reply. He wishes to see this glorious man;' and his abode being pointed out to him, he tells us ' hither
straight I ran.' But, contrary to his expectation, and ours too, he finds him a most wretched melancholy wight, incapable of any enjoyment, because · Amelia's gone away ;'-do not mis. take him; reader, as we did; he does not mean eloped, but gone to her long home. He then tells his visitor how happy he and his Amelia were, how they used to play with Poll and Chloe (the parrot and lapdog), and how he used to lead her to hear
the billows roar 'midst drawling stones ;' with many other things equally grave and pathetic. At last, having finished his would-be interesting story, he begs the stranger to weep for < pity o'er his widow'd life. At that nioment he is struck dumb with astonishment and terror by a dreadful earthquake, accompanied by thunder and lightning. In the midst of this elemen
tary convulsion, the visitor displays a pair of wings, and is con· verted into a very splendid angel. He gives Miserio very good advice ; tells him to learn patience,' and fear God; and, having executed his commission, returns to heaven:
• The angel spoke, and back ļike lightning fies,
Shoots palt the blinded sun, and flames along the skies.' The reader all this time does not suspect that he has been reading a dream; but so it is, for the author immediately after says,
Miserio trembling waķes in wild amaze' 'Twas all a dream.
The intelligent public will see by this analysis how miserably defective the author is in the construction of his story; the diction is equally faulty. Now and then, amidst every species of bad composition, fomething like poetry appears; of this kind is the couplet we last quoted; the fun blinded by the superior blaze of the heavenly messenger is a thought that would not disa grace the most genuine votary of the muses.
There is the
ART. XI. Henry and Acasto; a Moral Tule. By the Riv. Brian
Hill; with a Preface by Sir Richard Hill. Small 8vo.
London, 1789. DERSONS of a melancholy temper have generally a dispo1 lition to religion, love, and to poetry. These three accomplishments, for the most part, centre in the same person; the lover is poetical, the poet is amorous, and the saint both; witness the psalmist David. Perhaps, upon a chemical analysis of the mind, it would be found that religious, poetical, and amorous enthufiasm are but different directions of the same principle; as the object of all is confessedly the same, an invisible and ideal beauty, which Nature hath not thought proper to realise in this fublunary world, and which is the mere creation of the mind in which it resides. These three expansions of the mind, devotion, sentimental love, and poetry, constitute the purest and most rapturous pleasures of life, and are only exposed to one mortification, that human nature cannot support them for any length of time. The expressions of them too, in writing or discourse, furnish the most agreeable morsels of literary entertainment. Madame Guion's short way, her torrents, and her Commentary on the Song of Solomon; Rousseau's Eloise, and Thomson's Seafolis, present an entertainment of the same kind, and are equally pleasing to an elegant taste. Unfortunately, however, the most precious works of nature as well as of art are frequently counterfeited; and in the currency of the literary world there are at least ten counterfeits for one sterling coin. Whether the work before us belongs to the former or the latter description will appear from the sequel.
After some vague and trite descriptions of rural scenes, in which there is an equal regard shewn to grammar, propriety, and poetry, our author tells us that a certain old gentlewoman called Autumna
• Had nine times spread her golden store
And the first light on Henry's head arose.' The epithet pious, annexed to Anna in consequence of her amours, will surprise those critics who admire the propriety of Virgil, who, though he generally diftinguishes his hero by the appellation of the pious Eneas,' reduces him to Dux Tro• janus' when he met with Dido in a cave to celebrate the mysteries of Venus. But if such critics attend to the analogy that we have pointed out between religion and love, they will see che propriety of this epithet.