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records a curious anecdote of Dryden's noble Ode on Alexander's Feast, which he says was composed at a sitting, and which accounts for that irresistible charm of vigour and brilliance, that pervades the whole of it.
Let not idleness and imbecility take advantage of these remarks. Faculties of an ordinary cast must not presume to shew their nakedness. It is only for heads and hearts highly endowed to pour forth their stores without premeditation. Others must be left to the humbler kind of merit, that is attainable by study and toil. From the sacred paths of poetry, from all that is to hurry away the mind into scenes of imaginary splendour, they would do well to abstain. The frigid labour of forcing words into rhythm, of seeking for figures in which to invest trite thoughts, will never succeed in producing the effects of genuine soetry. The infatuated operator may have the luck of procuring the praise of the mechanical critic, who judges by rules; but the public will sleep over his work, and then quit it for more rational prose, which has all its merit without any of its defects.
What a contrast are the effusions of Walter Scott ! He seizes the lyre, and scatters about his wild strains at every careless touch. His notes
.“ sweet music breathe
His six epistles are addressed to 1. William Stewart Rose, Esq. 2. The Rev. John Marriot. 3. William Erskine, Esq. 4. James Skene, Esq. 5. George Ellis, Esq. 6. Richard Heber, Esq. The first opens thus :
" Ashesteel, Ettricke Forest.
“ November's sky is chill and drear,
No longer Autumn's glowing red
In meek despondency they eye
I cannot refrain from giving one more specimen, taken from the Third Epistle.
« Thus while I
the measure wild
hill and clear blue heaven.
Aud well the lonely infant knew
And onward still the Scottish lion bore,
March 17, 1803.
No. XXVIII. Genius incompatible with a narrow
taste. “ Many people have been employed in finding out ob
scure and refined beauties in what appear to ordinary observation bis
That mighty gift of the Deity, which enables mankind to cast a glance over the whole surface of creation, and even to penetrate occasionally with some success into its internal movements, is sadly limited in its faculties by the exclusive contemplation of individual excellence, even though the most wonderful and super-eminent in the annals of human existence.
I have therefore always thought, that the sort of idolatry, which for nearly half a century we have been called on to pay even to Shakspeare himself, has been carried a little too far to be consistent with a due expansion of our intellects. A sound candour must admit that the words bigotry and idolatry are indeed literally applicable to this confined occupation of our taste and pleasures. Lord Grey, on Tuesday last,* applied the terms besotted bigotry to another occasion; and, whether applicablet or not,
* March 15, in the House of Lords, on the Reversion Bill.
+ I do not mean to insinuate that th:e application was just. On that I give no opinion. I allude to his positions as general truths, well expressed.