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an attention so early, so long, or so unintermitting as that of poetry; and indeed as that of literary composition in general, if it be such, as at all satisfies the demands both of taste and of sound logic. How difficult and delicate a task even the mere mechanism of verse is, may be conjectured from the failure of those, who have attempted poetry late in life. Where then a man has, from his earliest youth, devoted his whole being to an object, which by the admission of all civilized nations in all ages is honorable as a pursuit, and glorious as an attainment; what of all that relates to himself and his family, if only we except bis moral character, can have fairer claims to his protection, or more authorise acts of self-defence, than the elaborate products of his intellect, and intellectual industry? Prudence itself would command us to show, even if defect or diversion of natural sensibility had prevented us from feeling, a due interest and qualified anxiety for the offspring and representatives of our nobler being. I know it, alas ! by woeful experience! I have laid too many eggs in the hot sands of this wilderness the world, with ostrich carelessness and ostrich oblivion. The greater part indeed have been trod under foot, and are forgotten; but yet no small number have crept forth into life, some to furnish feathers for the caps of others, and still more to plume the
shafts in the quivers of my enemies, of thein that unprovoked have lain in wait against my soul.
“ Sic vos, non vobis mellificatis, apes!”
An instance in confirmation of the Note, p. 39, occurs to me as I am correcting this sheet, with the FAITHFUL SHEPHERDESS open before me. Mr. Seward first traces Fletcher's lines;
“More foul diseases than e'er yet the hot
Sun bred thro' his burnings, while the dog
Filling the lower world with plague and death."-
“ The rampant lion hunts he fast
With dogs of noisome breath;
Pyne, plagues, and dreary death!"
“For this indeed is most splendid, but it was made an evil sign, and brings many a consuming disease to wretched mortals.” Nothing can be more simple as a description, or more accurate as a simile; which (says Mr. S.) is thus finely translated by Mr. Pope:
“Terrific Glory! for his burning breath
Taints the red air with fevers, plagues, and death!" Now here (not to mention the tremendous bombast) the Dog Star, so called, is turned into a real Dog, a very
odd Dog, a Fire, Fever, Plague, and death-breathing, red-airtainting Dog: and the whole visual likeness is lost, while the likeness in the effects is rendered absurd by the exaggeration. In Spencer and Fletcher the thought is justifiable ; for the images are at least consistent, and it was the intention of the writers to mark the seasons by this allegory of visualized Puns.
The author's obligations to critics, and the proba
ble occasion-Principles of modern criticism
To anonymous critics in reviews, magazines, and news-journals of various name and rank, and to satirists with or without a name, in verse or prose, or in verse-text aided by prose-comment, I do seriously believe and profess, that I owe full two thirds of whatever reputation and publicity I happen to possess. For when the name of an individual has occurred so frequently, in so many works, for so great a length of time, the readers of these works (which with a shelf or two of BEAUTIES, ELEGANT EXTRACTS and Anas, form nine-tenths of the reading of the reading public*) cannot but
* For as to the devotees of the circulating libraries, I dare not compliment their pass-time, or rather kill-time, with the name of readingCall it rather a sort of beggarly daydreaming, during which the mind of the dreamer furnishes for itself nothing but laziness and a little mawkish sensibility; while the whole materiel and imagery of the doze is supplied ab extra by a sort of mental camera obscura manufactured at the printing office, which pro tempore fixes, reflects and transmits the moving phantasmas of one man's
be familiar with the name, without distinctly remembering whether it was introduced for an eulogy or for censure. And this becomes the more likely, if (as I believe) the habit of perusing periodical works may be properly added to Averrhoe’s* catalogue of Anti-MNEMONICS, or weakeners of the memory. But where this has not been the case, yet the reader
delirium, so as to people the barrenness of an hundred other brains afflicted with the same trance or suspension of all common sense and all definite purpose. We should therefore transfer this species of amusement, (if indeed those can be said to retire a musis, who were never in their company, or relaxation be attributable to those, whose bows are never bent) from the genus, reading, to that comprehensive class characterized by the power of reconciling the two contrary yet co-existing propensities of human nature, namely; indulgence of sloth, and hatred of vacancy. In addition to novels and tales of chivalry in prose or rhyme, (by which last I mean neither rhythm nor metre) this genus comprizes as its species, gaming, swinging, or swaying on a chair or gate; spitting over a bridge ; smoking ; snuff-taking ; tete a tete quarrels after dinner between husband and wife; conning word by word all the advertisements of the daily advertizer in a public house on a rainy day, &c. &c. &c.
* Ex. gr. Pediculos e capillis excerptos in arenam jacere incontusos; eating of unripe fruit; gazing on the clouds, and (in genere) on moveable things suspended in the air; riding among a multitude of camels; frequent laughter; listening to a series of jests and humourous anecdotes, as when (so to modernise the learned Saracen's meaning) one man's droll story of an Irishman inevitably occasions another's droll story of a Scotchman, which again by the same sort of conjunction disjunctive leads to some etourderie of a Welchman, and that again to some sly hit of a Yorkshireman; the habit of reading tomb-stones in church-yards, &c. By the bye, this catalogue strange as it may appear, is not insusceptible of a sound pcychological commentary.
will be apt to suspect, that there must be something more than usually strong and extensive in a reputation, that could either require or stand so merciless and long-continued a cannonading. Without any feeling of anger therefore (for which indeed, on my own account, I have no pretext) I may yet be allowed to ex. press some degree of surprize, that after having run the critical gauntlet for a certain class of faults which I had, nothing having come before the judgement-seat in the interim, I should, year after year, quarter after quarter, month after month (not to mention sundry petty periodicals of still quicker revolution," or weekly or diurnal”) have been for at least 17 years consecutively dragged forth by them into the foremost ranks of the proscribed, and forced to abide the brunt of abuse, for faults directly opposite, and which I certainly had not. How shall I explain this ?
Whatever may have been the case with others, I certainly cannot attribute this persecution to personal dislike, or to envy, or to feelings of vindictive animosity. Not to the former, for, with the exception of a very few who are my intimate friends, and were so before they were known as authors, I have had little other acquaintance with literary characters, than what may be implied in an accidental introduction, or casual meeting in a mixt company. And,