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must be gently guided back into common sense, and the weaver's shuttle be mildly insinuated into the hand which so furiously wielded the poet's pen."
With very different sentiments, we consider the poetical delinquencies of such a man as Mr. Sotheby. We mourn over the monuments of departed genius; and when we look on the rank weeds which have overspread his tomb, (for buried he assuredly is,) we wonder that any laurel adorned his living brow! How is it that such a medley of genuine feeling and aukward affectation, of acute perception and something like insensibility, should exist in the productions of the same mind? To metaphysical inquirers, we leave the solution of this difficult problem; it is enough for us that such is the lamentable incongruity of human nature ; and more than enough for any but a Stoic philosopher, that, if he could read the future record of himself, however long the record might be, all that it would express might probably be thus conveyed :
“ Nil fuit uniquan
Sic impar sibi !" That he who has written as Mr. Sotheby has written,--that a poet who has rivalled Dryden in some of the best passages of the Georgics, and excelled him as a translator of the whole work, and who has presented the English reader with the most elegant perhaps of all romantic tales, the Oberon of Wieland *, -that such an author, we say, should select for his style the metre of Hans Carvel, and for his hero Don Pedro the Cruel, is truly melancholy. Nay, more; he has laboured to render a murderer interesting, at the moment in which he represents that murderer as mean (or rather mad) enough to confess his crimes before Edward the Black Prince, whose aid he is soli. citing against his rebellious subjects! His hero ends the confession, by shewing a belt stained with drops of gore; - süppos’d with blood,' we conclude, of Blanche of Bourbon --whom he poisoned, and who consequently did not bleed. We must, however, hasten to the performance of our irksone task, and proceed to prove the justice of the censure which we are reluctantly compelled to bestow on this very inferior work of an able author.
As a sufficient clue to the subject, we transcribe the adres. · tisement:
• The following poem is chiefly founded on history. - The chia, macter and crimes of Pedro, King of Castile, surnamed the Cruel,his private marriage with Maria de Padilla, prior to his public nup• We say nothing here of Mr. S.'s unfortunate poem of Saul; see Rev. Val. lv. N.ß. p.400.
cials with Blanche of Bourbon, the untimely death of Blanche, and the assassination of her lover, the expulsion of Pedro from his king. dom by his illegitimate brother, Henry Count of Trastamere, -- the circumstances which induced the dethroned Sovereign personally to solicit the aid of the Black Prince, — the decisive victory of Navaret, and the union of the heiress of Castile with John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster,-even, the enchanted girdle, and the mysterious warning, are related in the Chronicles of the times : - and if the reader require information more ample than [that which is] contained in the subjoined notes, he will be abundantly gratified by the delightful garrulity of Froissart, the eye-witness and enthusiastic recorder of that golden age of Chivalry, whose courteous and high-toned spirit are but faintly echoed in the poem of Constance de Castile.' .Faintly echoed,' indeed !-Let us listen awhile to the tone of Chivalry, at its head quarters, the Black Prince's camp:
• Hail ! barons bold, who liege-men wait
On Aquitain's superior state,
• And ye! the pride of Albion's coast,
Earl Percy, grac'd with glorious wounds.
Free homągers to Edward's fame.
• From Brittany brave Montfort led
(His falchion Alaming in the van)
Knight, Seneschal, and Castellan.' It cannot be said that we have invidiously selected these pass sages, since too many more stanzas of a nature equally prosaic and spiritless may be found. If, from some faint recollection of his former classical prejudices, Mr. Sotheby should plead precedent for his enumeration of the auxiliary heroes and vassals of our romantic Edward, let him be more strongly reminded that no Catalogues (except Catalogues Raisonnées) are admissible in short poems; though, in the length of an Iliad, such a list, even were it more unpoetical than it is, might be defended on critical grounds, and is even natural and excusable if we consider the design and circumstances of Homer, when he paid this detailed compliment to so many of the Greeks. The case is very different with Mr. Sotheby's,
• Gawain, in storied rhymes enroll’d,
Sir Lionel and Agravane,
And far renowned Aglovale,' &c. &c. &c. (p. 110.) or with the still tamer transcript from the rolls in the French Herald's Office,
• D'Ambreticourt has seized the lance,
Bohun and Chatellheraut advance ;
And Clayton calls on Boutelleire.' (page 157.) « Sternhold and Hopkins had great qualms," &c. &c. The simile is somewhat musty :- mais continuons. These personages are “ fortisque Gyas fortisque Cloanthus,” in all their native interest and animation : but there is no room, in a tale comparatively short, (though positively quite long enough,) for a minute record of such walking gentlemen. They should pass over the stage as
« Equitum turme peditumque caterve," without any display of the riches of the poet's nomenclature. We have principal characters enough, living and dead, in this poem, without these fashionable adjuncts, who appear and disappear like the figures of the Phantasmagoria, — YEXUw 'AMENHNA xapnya
“ The shadowy troops that pass, and make no sign !" but, besides these unsubstantial beings and empty names, we have the episode or rather excrescence of the page to Constance de Castile, Julian, who • boasts no other name,' although
poem, wirfrincipal chof the tichou
• The Mother, who that infant bore,
Save fair Maria, Pedro's queen.' Julian and Constance, then, are cousins; and they conceive and nourish a sort of Platonic affection for each other, from their earliest years :
• No wavering wish, sigh undefin'd,
Union of souls without a name !! Euge, Mr. Sotheby! this is in your old and truly poetical style of expression. So is the following passage, which we have sincere pleasure in extracting; and we believe that we must forgive the delay in the main story, occasioned by the narration of the birth and childhood of Julian; on account of the additional interest which it throws over the character of his fair friend and felation :
• Thus, peaceful, past (pass’d) year after year;
One was their smile, and one their tear.
And lonely musing charm'd the child.' This is surely beautiful in manner, though trite in design. We shall take this opportunity of introducing some additional instances of the still uncorrupted taste and undiminished vigour of Mr.Sotheby, when he emancipates himself from the trammels of imitation; of unworthy imitation of that rude simplicity of style, (illa priorum Simplicitas !) which really, when not employed by some transcendent genius whom it debases although it
cannot destroy, should be confined to nursery-tales and bare barous ballads. We here speak of the general want of correctness in language, and the puerility or rather poverty of thought, which disgrace our modern metrical romances : but can a poet of inborn strength, and no bounded scope of imagination, be contented with the inglorious facility of composing even in the measure of such sing-song ditties? There is no room, as Dryden admirably conceived, to turn round in this measure of eight feet. It is proper and excellent, when highly laboured, for a witty tale, such as those of Prior or Swift; or for Gay's Fables; or, still farther to exalt it, for a continued strain of irony, like that which so happily pervades the most original of poems, Butler's Hudibras ; but to see it substituted for heroic verse, in serious poems of length and intended dignity, was reserved for an age in which it is deemed a proof of taste, and an honourable testimony of antiquarian research, to revive the manner as well as the subject of some early chronicle in verse ; and to tread in the steps of Blind Harry, instead of those which our more polite predecessors followed, the steps of Blind Homer.
Mr. Sotheby's description of the midnight meeting of Pedro and Constance, on the shore at Corunna, is animated and pica turesque. In the lines on the Father, indeed, we observe some specimens of the limping style of versification which is consecrated to the Ballad-Singer, such as, ' ':
"His bosom labouring past controlling, : Down his dark cheek the big tear rolling :' &c.but the following short sketch of the Daughter, whom he bears in his arms through the white foam of the breakers, would furnish a painter with no vulgar ideas :
• But, motionless, like sculptured stone
Dim as a taper o'er the dead.'--page 12. The first line of the couplet in italics is very ambiguously expressed. The author would seem to mean that the monarch spred his mantle over his daughter, to the windward: but, by saying that he spread it to the wind,' Pedro is described
as making his royal raiment into a sort of sail, which would : be ill calculated to shield Constance from bleak gales un
kind: '- which last, moreover, is a fçeble and tautologous ex