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and sentiments the natural prav v **** stance common to the classTANRV vaadith for instance:
An old man stout of heart, and strong or limi
Had fed or shelter'd, linking to such acts,
On the other hand, in the
which are pitched at a lower note, as the “ Harry Gill,” “ Idiot Boy,” &c. the feelings are those of human nature in general; though the poet has judiciously laid the scene in the country, in order to place himself in the vicinity of interesting images, without the necessity of ascribing a sentimental perception of their beauty to the persons of his drama. In the “ Idiot Boy,” indeed, the mother's character is not so much a real and native product of a “ situation where the essential passions of the heart find a better soil, in which they can attain their maturity and speak a plainer and more emphatic language," as it is an impersonation of an instinct abandoned by judgement. Hence the two following charges seem to me not wholly groundless : at least, they are the only plausible objections, which I have heard to that fine poem. The
I one is, that the author has not, in the poem itself, taken sufficient care to preclude from the reader's fancy the disgusting images of ordinary,
morbid idiocy, which yet it was by no means his intention to represent. He has even by the
burr, burr, burr," uncounteracted by any preceding description of the boy's beauty, assisted in recalling them. The other is, that the idiocy of the boy is so evenly balanced by the folly of the mother, as to present to the general reader rather a laughable burlesque on the blindness of anile dotage, than an analytic display of maternal affection in its ordinary workings.
In the 56 Thorn,” the poet himself acknowledges in a note the necessity of an introductory poem, in which he should have pourtrayed the character of the person from whom the words of the poem are supposed to proceed : a superstitious man moderately imaginative, of slow faculties and deep feelings, “a captain of a small trading vessel, for example, who being past the middle age of life, had retired upon an annuity, or small independent income, to some village or country town of which he was not a native, or in which he had not been accustomed to live. Such men having nothing to do become credulous and talkative from indolence." But in a poem, still more in a lyric poem (and the NURSE in Shakspeare's Romeo and Juliet alone preveuts me from extending the remark even to dramatic poetry, if indeed the Nurse itself can be deemed altogether a case in point) it is not possible to imitate truly a dull and
garrulous discourser, without repeating the effects of dulness and garrulity. However this may be, I dare assert, that the parts (and these form the far larger portion of the whole) which might as well or still better have proceeded from the poet's own imagination, and have been spoken in his own character, are those which have given, and which will continue to give universal delight; and that the passages exclusively appropriate to the supposed narrator, such as the last couplet of the third stanza ;* the seven last lines of the tenth ; and the five following stanzas, with the exception of the four admirable lines at the commencement of the fourteenth are felt by many unprejudiced and unsophisticated hearts, as sudden and unpleasant sinkings from the height to which the poet had previously lifted them, and to which he again re-elevates both himself and his reader.
*" I've measured it from side to side;
'Tis three feet long, and two feet wide."
" Nay, rack your brain—'tis all in vain,
I'll tell you every thing I know ;
I'll give you the best help I can:
If then I am compelled to doubt the theory, by which the choice of characters was to be directed, not only a priori, from grounds of reason, but both from the few instances in which the poet himself need be supposed to
'Tis now some two-and-twenty years
And they had fix'd the wedding-day,
They say, full six months after this,